How to Use BHO Concentrates: Tips for Shatter, Budder, Oil, Wax & Live Resin
Have you ever tried dabbing? I highly recommend it! In order to get the most from this article, you should have a good grasp on what cannabis concentrates are and how they are made. To quickly summarize, there are two main categories in the concentrate world, solvent and solventless extractions. Solvent based extractions utilize potentially hazardous compounds like butane (all the concentrates below are butane-based), propane, CO2, and alcohol; whereas solventless extractions do not introduce foreign substances (except for water). If you already know what's going on and your preferences are dialed in, check out my secrets to taking the absolute best tasting dab, twaxing your joints, pressing ice water hash and dry sift, or making rosin hash.
BHO has risen in popularity due to its potency, flavor, and variation in consistencies. Nearly all consistencies are possible with butane-based extractions: shatter, budder, sap, sugar, snap n' pull, etc - but that does not mean one is better than the other! At the end of the day, the consistency of solvent based cannabis concentrates varies greatly depending on a range of factors: solvent used, strain, grow conditions, curing environment, equipment used, purging process, and extraction technique. It is important to note that some of these factors are controllable, while others are not. QUALITY IS RELATIVE!
After copious amounts of trial and error I've discovered some unique tips for how to maximize your butane hash oil (BHO) experience. For instance, when outdoors, it's easier handle the budder consistency in a Pebble when loading a vaporizer as opposed to shatter. Most of the consistencies listed below can be created with various extraction techniques, but this article will help you find the consistency of BHO that works best for how you like to consume cannabis. Despite the fact that each concentrate is referred to by its consistency, it's important to understand that they are all the result of the same butane-based extraction technique. Most importantly, no one wants to cough up a lung when smoking!
Pro Tip: If you're going to bother with BHO as opposed to solventless extracts like dry sift and ice water hash, live resin is our recommendation. It's going to have the best flavor and retain the most enjoyable aroma. For tips on how to smoke dabs, click here. If you're still learning, I recommend purchasing some essential weed accessories and a 420 travel kit in order to improve the experience.
As the name indicates, shatter has a hard, smooth, glass-like consistency. This consistency of extract breaks easily into shards and is often referred to as being 'stable'. Shatter is typically translucent (for those who place an importance on clarity) and very visual appealing. However, because shatter breaks so easily, it is arguably least forgiving to work with of all consistencies. A simple tap with your dabber may send shards of concentrate flying across the room, which is why I recommend using shatter in the comfort of your own home to prevent losing your stash. Many prefer to dab shatter as it can be difficult to load into certain vaporizers, but that’s not to say you can’t vaporize it. It will be difficult to twax the exterior of a joint or blunt with the brittle concentrate; therefore, I suggest putting it inside the joint or blunt when rolling. When using shatter for edibles, make sure that you activate the cannabinoids via decarboxylation before combining with oil or butter. For reference, concentrates with the shatter consistency can be converted to budder by simply whipping the concentrate on a hot plate.
Pro Tip: For easier handling, warm the tip of your dabber before sticking it into the shatter to break off a dab.
- Best suited for dabbing at home
- Challenging consistency to handle, not recommended for outdoor use
- Shatter shards can be mixed with flower inside joints before rolling
Wax or budder refers to cannabis extracts with a creamy, buttery consistency. It is also called crumble or cake batter. The consistency is comparable to a soft wax and is more forgiving to work with than shatter. Perhaps the only downside to budder is that it is less visually appealing than some other consistencies. Budder can be vaped, dabbed, twaxed (inside the joint or blunt), smoked, or used in edibles. Once again, make sure to activate the wax prior to combining with your oil or butter.
- Wax is more forgiving and easier to handle while on the go
- Great consistency for vaporizer pens
Sap is a term used to describe the soft, viscous, sticky consistency of cannabis concentrates. This consistency is typically pliable, oily, and relatively easy to work with, albeit sticky. I recommend storing sappy concentrates in parchment paper or a non-stick silicone container. Sap maintains the visual appeal of shatter with a more forgiving consistency, and is equally suited for use both at home and on the go. It can be dabbed and vaporized with ease, and because sappy extracts are pliable, they are easy to spread around your joints and blunts. It can also be incorporated in edibles once decarboxylation has occurred.
- Sticky but simple and forgiving consistency
- Great for twaxing due to its pliability
- Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
Snap N’ Pull
Snap n' pull refers to concentrates with a consistency between shatter and sap (the two extremes). It can stretch or snap when pulled based on ambient temperature and amount of force used. More abrupt motions will cause the concentrate to fracture, while gentle movements will cause it to stretch. This is one of my favorite consistencies to work with, as it is visually appealing, manageable to handle, and not quite as sticky as sap. Because snap n’ pull shares qualities of both shatter and sap, it is one of the most versatile consistencies discussed. It is the best consistency for wrapping snakes around joints or blunts when twaxing. It could even be turned into budder/wax if desired. It can be consumed inside or outside, in nearly every fashion: dabbed, vaporized, smoked, or used in edibles.
- The middle ground between shatter and sap
- A very versatile consistency, our favorite to work with
- The perfect consistency for wrapping snakes around joints or blunts
The 'sugar' consistency is typically achieved when the starting material has some level of moisture present. This is most commonly the result of processing freshly harvested, frozen plant material (as opposed to dried and cured buds/trim) – this type of extract is known as live resin. Live resin captures the aromas and flavors present in the living plant immediately after harvest, many of which would be lost in the curing process. Sugary live resin consistencies are visually appealing, easy to work with, and contain high levels of terpenes. However, due to the specialty nature of extracts derived from fresh frozen plant material, live resin is typically the most expensive form of BHO concentrate. Note that this consistency can also be achieved using the main buds/colas of the plant as opposed to the trim – this is referred to as nug run. Both the live resin and nug run designations indicate the starting material as opposed to the extraction technique or consistency.
- Live resin captures the unique flavors and aromas of fresh plants
- Dabbing will deliver maximum flavor and effect
- It can also be vaped, smoked, twaxed or used in edibles
Bonus: Propane Hash Oil (PHO)
Rising in popularity is the practice of using propane, or a mix of butane and propane, in an effort to create a less toxic and more terpene-rich extract. You will be hard pressed to find PHO in a consistency other than budder or wax; but assuming you don’t mind, PHO can be dabbed, vaporized, twaxed (inside), smoked, or used for edibles and topicals after activation.
- An extraction technique with the potential for more flavor
- Because the consistency is usually budder, PHO is great for vaporizer pens
- Versatile enough for use in any consumption method
Travel & Storage
Regardless of consistency, it’s important to store your BHO properly to preserve potency and terpene content. I like to use an air-tight, non-stick silicone container like the Pebble. It also ensures that your shatter doesn’t auto-budder over time. What do you keep in your 420 travel kit? Check out my 10 Essentials for Savvy Stoners here.